Sunderland soldier who served alongside Duke of Sussex launches ball and chain mental health challenge

A Sunderland soldier is aiming to get people talking about their mental health by carrying a ball and chain around with him.

Saturday, 7th September 2019, 9:00 am
The Duchess of Cornwall talks to Steve Parker about raising awareness for mental health at Victory Services Club in London, as he shows her the ball and chain he is carrying around as part of an awarness challenge. Photo by Chris Jackson/PA Wire.

Warrant Officer First Class Steve Parker, Command Corporal Major, served alongside the Duke of Sussex when they were members of the same squadron of the Household Cavalry's Blues and Royals.

The 42-year-old Wearsider and his supporters are hoping to get conversations going about mental health issues by carrying round the weight as part of a campaign to support a new charity.

It comes as the Duke returned to the prestigious centre where he trained to be an officer to give a lecture on mental health.

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Harry was one of the guest speakers at the Field Army Health Conference at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst alongside former England footballer Rio Ferdinand.

The Duke's visit was highlighted by his former Household Cavalry colleague, who has taken on his own mental health project by carrying around a ball and chain to raise awareness about the issue.

WO1 Parker was asked to take on the challenge to help the fund.

"My commanding officer strapped it on to me on Monday and said 'you can't choose when you have mental health problems'," said WO1 Parker.

The Duchess of Cornwall talks to Thomas Lyall, left, and David Lyall at Victory Services Club in London. Photo by Chris Jackson/PA Wire.

He added "It's showing the burden we all have to carry."

The senior soldier talked about his unusual charity task when he met the Duchess of Cornwall as she visited London's Victory Services Club in her role as its patron-in-chief.

He handed over the three kilogram ball so Camilla could feel its weight and she said he was doing it for a worthy cause.

WO1 Parker said about Harry: "He's been in Sandhurst attending the Field Army Health Conference, he was giving a full briefing about mental health.

"It's really important we have that conversation now, it's taken a long time.

"I don't just think it's about the military, society as a whole has an issue."

He added how after he put his charity challenge on his Twitter account @Home_Command he was contacted by people asking for help.

He tweeted to say it had been a “huge honour” to represent the British Army and to meet the Duchess of Cornwall.